Saturday, March 29, 2008
Questions Not Asked !
It is refreshing and comforting to note that the editors and the commentators of this blog permit and also analyze all entries and comments. At the same time, it is extremely saddening and frustrating to observe that the school has so far not bothered to give its version of things to contest, refute, accept or discuss these issues. It is not just the ‘fee hike’. We would be wrong to assume that this fee hike, if reverted, solves all the problems. Far from it. There have been many surveys. Most of them came with some very clear verdicts. Even assuming that only 10 to 15 % of the stakeholders seemed to dissent and disapprove, is it not in the interest of the school to get into a discussion on those?
[We thrive on hope. The unshakeable GIIS/GIF culture of non co-operation and non-responsiveness is by now well understood and well documented -Ed].
Those calling for ‘concrete evidence’ and ‘absolute proof’ fail to understand the gravity of the situation. There are certain limits to which the blog authors can go. They are not immune from attacks or discrimination or slander either. Nor would they like to place the children’s future/education at peril. With so many big names and advisors in the team, GIF and GIIS can get away with quite a lot. Infact, they already have gotten away with quite a lot ! And there is only so much that any one, or two, or three individuals can do. It is up to people like us to discern, form/re-form our opinions, discuss and debate, enlighten, make decisions, speak out as needed, and exercise our options and rights.
It is, in fact, quite amusing to note so many comments on account sheets, the amount of money that made the profit etc. Nothing wrong with it ! But I would have been happier, had there been an equal number of comments on the letter from the Bhavan. As parents of young children, we should look at the ethics and the values that govern the acts of individuals, families and institutions. Money can be made and lost. We should ensure that money is ‘made’ the right way and ‘spent’ for the right purposes. But, as elders, if we fail to stand up for what is just, honest, ethical and fair, we would be failing badly.
Now, all of us know that the school and its management have not, till date, told us why we are no longer a Bhavan’s school. There was not even a terse one liner saying that we are no longer ‘that’ and will henceforth be ‘ this’.
Two, we know that teachers are poorly paid and that many of those 'once loyal', good and experienced teachers (who any school will love to employ) have left. This is not to say that those who haven't left are not good ! But let us not shy away from telling the truth. A few have been retained, after they submitted their resignation and after prolonged bargaining. This meant paying them 1.8 to 2.5 times their previous salary, thus creating further divide among the teaching fraternity.
Three, a simple back of the envelope calculation will tell us, without depending upon the so-called "unreliable" documentary exposures (2006, 2005), that the school has been making huge profits not just on the tuition fee and registration fee but also through bus fee, sale of books and so forth. Nothing wrong in it either, as long as GIIS calls itself a ‘for profit’ enterprise and gently asks Gandhi to take a walk! Parents like us, then, can decide what to do. After all, some of our own brothers and sisters have their children studying in International Schools in Singapore which are ‘expressedly for profit’! But then GIIS, in such a case, will have to exhibit and put on evidence professionalism and corporate behaviour. It should not take shelter behind ‘Gandhian’ frock. If you decide to walk the ramp, be dressed for it! It can’t be Gandhian for the purpose of attracting big souls and parents, and Hritik Roshan while selecting cars, business suits, hotel rooms and prime time ZEE TV!
Four, the status of the washrooms (which have not increased in number in keeping with the increase in numbers), the equipping of laboratories, the sports facilities, the coach to learner ratio for CCA and ECA, the teacher to pupil ratio, the results of std X of CBSE, (the undisclosed) results of the IB Diploma… none of these have shown any sign of improvement. In fact, there has been a marked deterioration in the case of some, both in absolute terms and in comparative terms.
So, are we not entitled to ask questions like these ? ‘Why increase the number of students? Why launch more schools from the money earned through just one? Why fly in and host more number of these advisors, at school’s cost, when we see no direct impact of these advisors on schooling of our children? If you have problems – of money, human resource, space, technology, whatever- why not take us in to confidence, ahead of introducing a new plan (fee hike, change of head, new campus...) instead of delivering it to us as fait accompli ? What is your real motive? Do you want to run a good school? Or run 'also ran' schools in every country that has more than 5000 Indians? Or make a network of "well known" schools, [We call it "building the brand" at our expense -Ed] meaning well advertised and not necessarily well run, and sell them off at some point of time to a good bidder or settle for an IPO ?
Let us ask, gentlemen, ASK. But ask intelligently and politely. Ask with focus and with purpose. Ask without hurting but don't fail to point out.
[Readers, we welcome your thoughts and comments.
We welcome well-thought out and well-written pieces. If you feel passionately about something, write for us, and share it with others!
Friday, March 28, 2008
(Read GIIS Newsletter No. 207)
Arya's parents said: "... we have always encouraged her curiosity and questioning nature."
We congratulate the parents for their dedication to education. We wish Arya and all the young, curious and questioning minds, the very best during their schooling years, and beyond.
[The baby picture (R) that we had posted first, is of Arya as a two year old. -Ed]
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Question: How accurate or reliable is this data ?
Positives: The data matches up with the lease amount paid to SLA for GIIS Queenstown (exactly known), and our own estimate of tuition fees. Transfers to GIIS New Zealand, GIIS Japan, GIIS Thailand and GIIS Malaysia match up with the timeline where expansions were announced (2006).
Negatives/Doubtfuls: Small debits shown going to GIIS Australia, GIIS China and GIIS US ($30 only): These were pointed out to be non-existent. However, they could be just names of expense accounts. Amount paid to Julia Gabriel for Speech and Drama (about S$107K) has not been verified (help wanted). Transfer of about S$ 5,200 to IIM Bangalore matches timeline (2006) but can only be verified by contacting IIM Bangalore authorities (help wanted).
It is impossible to say with 100% certainty, but we are about 95% certain that the figures are real. But we encourage you to do your own analysis and independent verification.
Question: Why are these data relevant to parents ?
Answer: The discussions on the fee hike are constrained by lack of data on costs including the campus lease/rental charge, bus service charges etc which were blamed as the major factors for the fee hike. Parents wish to have the data so that they can analyse the numbers and be well informed before making their judgement on the hike.
We request GIIS/GIF not to withhold information which is important to parents.
The highlights for GIIS Queenstown (Year 2006) are as follows:
GIIS QT has "transferred" or "donated" S$ 1.94 million to GIF in 2006.
GIIS QT has transferred S$ 415,327 to GIIS New Zealand.
GIIS QT has paid about S$5,200 to IIM Bangalore.
GIIS QT has paid $640,368 to Indian Schools Pte Ltd.
GIIS QT has received about S$8.995 million in Tuition Fees.
GIIS QT has received about S$2.4 million in Bus Fees.
GIIS QT has paid about S$1.38 milion as Bus Payments.
GIIS QT has paid S$1,289044 as lease (rental) to SLA.
GIIS QT has spent about S$167 K as cleaning expenditures
GIIS QT has spent about S$292 K on advertising
GIIS QT has spent about S$61 K on guests and dignitaries.
GIIS QT turned a profit of about S$ 3.8 million after all the outflows were considered (including transfers as noted above).
[Images removed 25/03/2008, see numbers above instead -Ed]
We request GIF to refute the above accounts if they are wrong, and publish their true accounts. (We have always welcomed GIIS/GIF management to join this blog)
A request to all commentators: Please avoid personal attacks. Thank you.
ALL 7 COMMENTS WHICH APPEARED ON THE PREVIOUS POST ARE RETAINED BELOW:
Comments Policy: Comments are welcome but no personal attacks please. Thanks for your support.
These are scanned parts from apparently authentic Audited Reports for year 2005 (available as PDF on the internet. Links below:)
BGIIS QT's Audited Report for Year 2005
GIF's (then known as GIEF) Audited Report for Year 2005
We welcome and request GIIS/GIF to authenticate or refute the data.
[ Anyone who has objections to the scanned pages appearing above: please express and explain your objection through a comment. We have posted the scanned pages here as the original document is on an internet website which sometimes appears very slow or dead. We would like to be able to discuss the data without violating anyone's rights -Ed]
A request to all commentators: Please avoid personal attacks in this forum. Thank you.
Monday, March 24, 2008
It is not enough to pay and pay
by "Gullible Indian"
You and your spouse could be "typical" parents. And talking of types, there are a few noteworthies.
Type A: The head-in-the-clouds parent. This rare type is commonly heard uttering the mantra "I don't care". Thinks: "Why not, it is just a hundred bucks more, and I'm already paying thousands for ....". And after all, it is a charity, so why be miserly laah ! (Or, when fees are paid for by the employer, who cares!)
Type B: The head-in-the-sand parent. Reads announcements of campuses opening in Malibu and Lichtenstein and shakes his head. Might read this blog and shake his head even more, but always hopes that it will be the next guy who does something about the problem. Sometimes takes comfort in talking about the problem in return for a small amount of sympathy. And if it is something he can bear, like a 5% hike, he will pay up and not bother to find out more. In the worst case, he might switch his child to another school that offers some sops, like a deposit waiver (and let the cycle of miserable existence continue in the new school...?). This is the eternal optimist, as many of us are (or the spouse is).
Then there is Type C: the "value for money" parent. That includes most of us. Here reigns the "middle class" mindset.
Stirred by the crisis, the type B or C parent emerges (under the influence of a type C spouse ? or having overcome the contagious lethargy of the type A/B ?). With new hope kindled by the apparent "listening mode" of the management, the emergent B/C parent makes the approach.
Dusting out their pet issues, they venture the same old questions about the service level being dished out... contrasting it with what was promised in 1864, in the pre-inflationary era.
And will any of them have to return disappointed ? Never. Lots of quality is being promised. As much, as the "Gullible Indian" can stomach. "You just need to agree to this one fee hike, this one time, and we will then do our very best for the next three years". The surplus (if any, do we even need to say?) will be used to increase the quality even further, and make it shoot through the roof and vanish into the sky (only to re-appear in far-off places such as Auckland, Mumbai and Nagpur).
The "$urplus" ? Before you scratch your head at this new word, the ocean of quality will be churned before your very eyes.
And what will emerge, will depend on your vaasanas, your desires, the pet issues you were most vocal about. You WILL always hear the "right thing".
If you are the type that asks about library space / books / better labs / IT lab, you will be told:
"We will use surplus funds to buy more books and revamp... "
" -ditto- IT lab..."
" -ditto- science laboratories "
Those who asked about teacher shortage will be rewarded thus:
"we will hire even more expat teachers using the surplus..."
If poor infrastructure in QT was your main obsession, you hear : "we will use the surplus for renovating QT, we will improve infrastructure.."
If you weakly mention the lack of audio-visual equipment in classrooms (spotted in the 'rival' school), you will soon hear :
"we will gradually install AV equipment in all classrooms using surplus funds ..."
If lack of A/C in the auditorium for Badminton CCA was the cause of your itch [Sporty types will sweat - Ed], this is how you shall be soothed:
"we are planning to install an AC with the surplus funds so that your kid will not sweat... and that is exactly why we need..."
If you ask about the doubled workload of the teachers, what emerges is:
"we are doubling the number of teachers we have currently.. and that is why we need to raise the fees.."
If you ask about toilets and the inadequate cleaning, you will be promised:
"yes! we want to have 62.8% more cleanliness which means the cleaning costs will go up by 96%.."
And so on...
The 'unity in diversity' of all of the above, is that your dharma, as a parent, is simply to agree to the fee hike, and create the "surplus". "Surplus" is the new mantra. Any existing profit is not "surplus". Do not let your senses fool you. The unspoken message is that without surplus (= additional profits) none of the above will happen.
[It appears that the Type C spouse took over at this point. Notice a distinct shift in the style of the prose ? -Ed].
We have two key points:
1. As long as detailed cost break-up is kept secret from the parents, all these promises can only be taken as worthless (if we take them to be in good faith) or deceptive (if we take past history into consideration), or both.
GIIS has had enough time to improve quality when costs had not gone up, and when there were only two campuses in Singapore.
Instead of focussing on quality then, the management went on an expansion spree and 'show-bazee'. That is the historical record. Management, how do we trust your word ?
2. If we do agree to a certain hike (say 5%?) and create a "surplus" (that is, surplus on top of existing profit level!), then... why is it, that only such "surplus" can be deployed to do what urgently needs to be done ?
Their "appearing to listen" and mouthing quality mantras has just one purpose: To make you agree to the hike and walk away, so that you continue doing your thing, leaving them in peace to do theirs.
[We can almost hear the Type C spouse walking away now -Ed]
That brings us to our main point. It is not enough if we pay. We have to remain engaged with the school (whichever the school).
To quote the worthy William Lowe Bryan (Er, who was he ?) :
"Education is one of the few things a person is willing to pay for and not get."
[Question: Why is this relevant to the fee hike ? Answer: 1. It mentions school being run 'for profit'. 2. It has been verified as authentic 3. It carries the signature of the current Director General of Bhavan worldwide. -Ed]
In July 2006, Mr H. N. Dastur of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (Bhavan for short) wrote this three page letter to GIF (then known as the GIEF) terminating the relationship. Authenticated with kind assistance from the Additional Registrar of the Bhavan in Mumbai, this letter is very revealing to read. (Refer: Call for Documentation)
This is why the school can no longer use the Bhavan's name. The school has kept the parents in the dark about this all the while, but the truth is now out.
"...when Bhavan started re-examining the functioning of the Singapore School, it was found that on several counts it was not functioning as a Bhavan's school should function...
... the Singapore Trust was collecting huge amounts running into crores of rupees by way of Deposits / Registrations from unsuspecting parents...
... It was also found that the Singapore school was registered ... as a commercial entity...
... An examination of the accounts of the Trust at Singapore clearly indicated that the only purpose of the Trust and the School was to run a commercial organization running the activity of a school..."
[ We have made copies of the images from the source website, and re-posted them below just in case these images are removed from the source website. -Ed. ]
Sunday, March 23, 2008
We are seeking documentation relevant to the various issues being posted here. If you are in possession of relevant documentation (example: proving or disproving allegations of mismanagement or wastage) please share with us links or scanned copies.
[Updated 26/03/2008: As responsible parents, what we are looking for (with regard to the fee hike issue and also the general quality issue) is data on costs and revenue, including proof of cost escalations, and preferably breakdown into itemised cost, so that we can judge the arguments provided by Kaustubh Bodhankar, on the merits of each point. -Ed]
We welcome GIF or GIIS to present their own documentation in a like manner.
[We continue to welcome GIIS/GIF management to participate in this discussion. -Ed]
Important: Kindly ensure that personal or private information (if any) is blacked out/whited out before sharing your documentation. Please retain the original copies for your own reference as you may be called upon to produce the document in original form.
As part of the discovery process, we will try to verify whether received documents are authentic. However this is a very laborious process and we need your help as well.
Thank you in anticipation.
DOCUMENT #1: Termination Letter from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan to GIF
[Question: Why is this relevant to the fee hike ? Answer: 1. It mentions school being run 'for profit'. 2. It has been verified as authentic 3. It carries the signature of the current Director General of Bhavan worldwide. -Ed]
This is a scanned image of a letter originating from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (Mumbai) and addressed to GIEF (the old name of GIF). We have successfully established the authenticity of this letter with the kind support of the Additional Registrar, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai, who were very helpful to this bunch of 'green bloggers' trying to verify the letter. We are greatly indebted to the Bhavan for this assistance. Certified thus:
It is a true copy of the letter dated July, 6, 2006, addressed to The Global Indian Education Foundation(Singapore), 1, Mei Chin Road, Singapore 149253, signed by Mr.H..Dastur, Joint Executive Secretary, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.The letter is authentic. Mr.H.N.Dastur is currently the Executive Secretary and Director General of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, worldwide.
See our ARTICLE on this document. The document itself (3 pages) are at: PAGE 1 OR PAGE 1
PAGE 2 OR PAGE 2 and PAGE 3 OR PAGE 3
COMING SOON... Watch this space.
GIIS QT 2006 Accounts Highlights (New 25 March 2008)
GIIS QT 2005 Audited Reports
Please add comments under this and provide us your links to documentation. Thank you.
Friday, March 21, 2008
We welcome teachers and parents contributing valuable articles and insightful comments. -Ed]
Article from 'The Hindu Metro': The Brash Pack (click this link to read)
Kids pick up foul language from just about anywhere. But it’s the responsibility of schools and parents to nip this tendency in the bud.
School kids, should you use foul language? Aren’t there better ways to express yourself?
Walk into an VIIIth grade, VIIth grade, or for that matter a VIth grade classroom, and you are more likely to come out having a massive heart attack, thanks to the kind of language kids these days use in class...
...... ... ... ...
Parents: “Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.”
Schools/teachers: “The quality of a university is measured more by the kind of students it turns out than the kind it takes in,” and Students: “All power is within you. You can do anything and everything. Stand up and express the divinity within you.”
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Proposed strategy to engage GIIS/GIF immediately for relief of fee hike, and to find a permanent solution to other problems:
1. collect and analyse data, share it fully and equally with parents and management
- In progress.
2. inform parents, allow open discussions on this blog, invite GIIS/GIF to the blog
- Invitations were sent.
3. run fee hike survey on blog, get 200 fully informed parents to vote by end of week
- In progress. Please spread the word.
4. form Googlegroups or other mail groups or neighbourhood groups of parents
- In progress, all parents to do more.
5. write letters to Principal, AT, KB, send blog pages as email using this blog's facility
- Some written, all parents to help.
6. -do- to Advisors, Patrons, board members, press/media in Singapore and India
- All parents to help.
7. Make phone calls to influential people in small groups of 4 or 5 parents and explain the situation and seek their help.
- Not started. All parents, please help.
8. approach CASE for immediate relief:
Request to CASE for immediate action:
CASE, as mediator in the dispute, should request GIIS not to hike the fee for the GIRO collection scheduled for April 2008. This is because the proposed new rates are disputed and the hike has been timed to put parents at a disadvantage.
CASE engagement in progress, parents please contact email@example.com
9. approach the Indian High Commission to immediately assign a mediator / observer. As this is a matter affecting NRI's / Indian diaspora, we would like to ask for an active role from the High Commission. We will draft a petition to the High Commission with sufficient signatures, but this will take time and the matter is urgent. Based on facts already uncovered here, we need the High Commission to intervene now.
- Not started. Help needed in co-ordinating this.
10. Request each GIIS campus to elect (not appoint) a representational PTA (Parent Teacher Association) with elected members from the body of parents and teachers. Several teacher representatives and parent representatives are needed based for different levels, subject matters, areas of expertise, neighbourhoods represented etc.
- To be done by blog authors + parents help. Teachers, we need your help too !
11. Set up a High Power Committe of all concerned parties, for permanent solution.
The committee may include PTA (representing parents and teachers), CASE, High Commission representatives (representing the interests of NRI's), Singapore authorities and current GIIS/GIF management.
This committee shall discover full accounts of costs (every detail to be scrutinized), determine essential and non-essential expenses, any malpractices or irregularities, and taking the 'non-profit' tag in good faith, determine and recommend what the optimum fees should be. After this problem is solved, the committee shall recommend structure, organization and process to ensure quality education at reasonable cost.
- To be done.
Please add anything that was missed out, or new ideas. Thanks to all who have contributed to these.
Monday, March 17, 2008
We are happy to present additonal data on the lease, available from SLA:
* Cheviott Hill (East Coast) 3+3+3 yr lease
You may verify this from http://www.sla.gov.sg/doc/ser/TenderAwardList(2004).xls
62Kpm x 12 = S$ 744K annually
Area: 7322 sq.m.
Tender closed Sept 2005
* Balestier ? Jalan Rajah - Former Moulumein
You may verify this from http://www.sla.gov.sg/doc/ser/TenderAwardList(2005).xls
Tender closed Aug 2007
Area: 9094 sq.m.
170K pm x 12 = S$ 2.04 million annually
Caution: This figure is not from SLA but from Year 2006 Estimate
Approximately = S$ 1.29 million annually
The above given figure for Queenstown agrees with the excellent analysis by ' KB-PG MEETING ANALYSIS-I' in the previous post.
Lease expense as % of revenue: The credits during Year 2006 for QT Campus were approximately: S$ 9 million (Tuition Fees) + S$ 3.9 million (Refundable deposit) + S$ 1.14 million (Registration fee). Even if we ignore the refundable deposit, the rental/lease is only coming to at most 13% of revenue when taken as 1.29/(9 + 1.14) . In actual fact, it is even less, the 10% figure offered by the said commentator is likely to be more correct.
So, a 60% increase on the 10% part, should be a 6% increase, as already argued by the said commentator.
Parents, please send this blog page to GIIS/GIF and request their response even though it may not be forthcoming.
We request each parent, to ask 5 other parents who have not yet voted, to vote without delay, after reading the facts and analysis.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Dear Bala and others,
Pl confirm whether we are meeting the Principal and the Mgmt on sat at 10 AM or not?
Any outcome of today's meeting between 5 parents and mgmt?
Pl confirm urgently
[Update from the Editorial Team, 16/03/2008:
Kudos to ParentsGroup and the few others, for their good effort and for taking the first step forward! We did not (and should not) expect GIF to reverse the hike very easily. So, the outcome we have now (no change) was to be expected. But this 'failure' is but the first step to victory.
Your victory is in what you had achieved, in asking questions and getting back answers and recording and sharing back with the other parents in true community spirit. You have set an example through your actions. This, when all parents are in the dark about what agreement PSG had made with KB on Friday (We are still hopeful that PSG would come back and inform parents, but that is another matter). The story has only begun, as other small groups will now be encouraged to find out more and ask even better questions, record their interactions for the benefit of the others, and eventually unravel the secrets.
This is also a bit like little Davids fighting the big Goliath, and we cannot expect victory in a day.
But it is very good that your meeting did not end up as a shouting match (as had happened in previous years with certain parents. It is easy to lose your calm when faced with the cold and unmoving position of the supposedly charitable management). In fact, driving some parents away from QT is a commercially rewarding strategy for GIF. The non-refundable money accumulates and frees up a seat to trap the next victim waiting in line.
This team does not believe that uninformed mobs shouting at the gates can produce the desired results.
Our approach is to put together the data, before we seek intervention. We still don't have all the datawe need. We urgently need more parents supporting the data collection. We would like to tell you that only a few weeks ago, the blogging parents were seriously thinking of shutting down the blog, due to lack of volunteer help. Imagine what you would have, had we quit by the time the fee hike announcement hit home ! Fee hike is the top concern currently, but that is not the be-all and end-all for this blog. We are still short of volunteer help !
At the same time, we support and encourage efforts by parents like ParentsGroup who came forward to bring up the fee hike with KB. We wish more parents could physically be there to support ParentsGroup & co, but then, what you saw is what you get in an Indian school ! The core bloggers do not want to come under pressure from GIIS/GIF and have to shut down the blog, so they are naturally being more careful and not giving away too much at this early stage.
The questions you asked were good (could have been better), and KB's answers revealing. We know with fair certainty that even a 50-60% lease hike, if true, would only reduce the profit margin by a certain bit. Since you did not manage to elicit the campus-wise lease figures (old and new), we don't know what the stated "50-60% increase" really refers to. We suspect that there would be some 50 - 60% increase somewhere, otherwise KB could not have given out that number (we are talking of shades of truth here). GIIS has gone from two campuses to three. This itself could be the meaning of the 50% increase ! Recall that we had demanded in Nov 2007 that the cost of the 3rd campus should not be dumped on parents. If a parent volunteer can contact SLA to ascertain the facts, that would be a good start. We would think that a 50% raise in lease of a campus would have made it to the newspapers ! In all likelihood, this could be the cost escalation resulting from the expansion, and as expansions continue beyond Balestier, to Vietnam, Australia, Africa, the Americas and elsewhere, it is very important that we get more data and be prepared for what is coming.
There is some new information from 'Mathematician' on the T&G 'model'. One parent had mentioned that T&G transaction data can be obtained. That would be very valuable, and our number crunchers are standing by. So, please get it !
An 'Anonymous' commentator has advocated mass petition. We encourage and support that. Please get yourself a GMail ID, get your friends together, join some group or blog, write a draft petition and share it somewhere, either here, or with the already formed GoogleGroup. But, please take some action, and do not just wait for the blogging parents (or someone else) to take initiative. We can certainly help with drafting the petitions and will sign too. If there are 5 different petitions, there is no harm !
24 COMMENTS MOVED OVER BELOW and CLOSED as at 17/03/2008.
go to NEXT POST for CONTINUATION
- We apologize to our readers and the the 'Anonymous' commentator as well, for any inconvenience caused.
KINDLY KEEP THE DISCUSSIONS RELEVANT AND FOCUSSED. Thank you.
So, we demand that GIIS Singapore principals and GIF work together giving first priority to delivering the promised quality for GIIS Singapore. This, before anything else !
We had already suggested as early as November 2007, that 90% of the fees collected should be spent locally, which would then make the GIIS schools not-for-profit, and at the same time help to improve infrastructure, teaching and transport by proper allocation of funds.
- Ed 15/03/2008]
Reported in VN media. [click link below to read full article]
GIIS Opening in HCM City, Vietnam
04/03/2008 (GMT+7)VietNamNet Bridge – Singapore-based non-profit organisation Global Indian Foundation announced it plans to set up a school in HCM City in collaboration with the Sai Gon Star International School.....
'Presidium of Patrons' is a uniquely GIF concept. [click link below for full newsletter]
Dr Shashi Tharoor joins GIF's 'Presidium of Patrons'
It says that "Dr Shashi Tharoor would be advising the foundation on the future projects in the Americas".
Does Tharoor know the true nature of GIF ? Or, is it a superficial association ?
See Tharoor's web site. It gives the following e-mail IDs:
for Press Inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
for General Info: email@example.com
P ostal Address: Shashi Tharoor, c/o Editorial Offices, Arcade Publishing, 116 John Street, Suite 2810, New York, NY 10038
Our vision when we started this parents forum was to avoid sensitive GIF topics.
But we have now come to realize that these are very central to the quality problems. We need to engage not only the principals, but also GIF management, the advisors and the patrons. We also need to dig out factual data and analyse numbers. Please do your bit by writing to various advisors and patrons.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Let us analyse the few purported 'facts' offered by the recent GIIS fee hike announcement, after filtering out all the filler words.
• Para #2 says:
'Singapore Land Authority ... has increased our school leases substantially'
This is probably the main item, being first in descending order.
Question to management: In support of this statement, please publish the past and present lease amounts for QT, EC, and new lease amount for Balestier.
If not revealed by school, we have to request figures from SLA, or from other similar schools. Help needed !
• Para #3 says:
'Average employee Cost to the School (CTC) has gone up by more than 60% in the past 2 years'
Question: Please publish the current CTC per employee per annum.
(If not revealed by school, estimates to be obtained. 60% pay rise on the average seems unusual).
'For every 15 students, a new teacher has to be employed...'
Of course ! But do not forget that every added set of 15 students pay over SGD 100,000 annually (transport excluded) ! Subtract from this the annual salary of one teacher employed, and the rest is pretty much additional profit, so why are we complaining about number of students ? If the number of students were a problem as suggested, expansion would have stopped automatically.
'combined teaching resources have risen to over 300 (includes full time & part time teachers)'
Take it as 300 x 15 = 4500 students, and work into the numbers above. This statement also reveals that part time teachers are being counted as equal to full time in calculating teacher to students ratio.
• Para #4 lists out:
'cleaning, security & nursing agencies ... medical Insurance for students, teachers and staff and ...ECA/CCA activities'
Question: Please publish the annual total. (These fees are subject to inflation but are obviously smaller ticket items).
Although the word 'inflation' has been prominently invoked, the figures do not add up. There is something missing !
We request the authorities to publish the facts and figures.
1. Please forward this post as email to management and request them for answers (HOW?) and make sure you vote on the fee hike survey (top left).
2. Please try to dig out the facts, from SLA, from teachers, ex-teachers, or any source. Share the facts and figures (some parents have already been doing this, thanks for your efforts).
3. If management does not seem to respond, contact the governing board, advisors, and other higher authorities that they are answerable to. Make them respond.
4. Adopt Gandhigiri by sending flowers as a commentor has suggested.
5. Continue to do what you would normally do, and not wait for the blogging parents to make things happen. A googlegroup is already being formed. It is better to work within your smaller trusted groups like your condo group. But please keep others updated of any progress. Use this blog ! When we meet with the management, ensure that you also have mediators at hand, and record the minutes. 'Shouting matches' do not serve any purpose.
6. Some of you are considering your options. Whether you stay and fight or move out, is an individual choice that we respect even though it will be a loss to those who remain.
7. Let us each explore possible further options if no response is forthcoming after all these measures.
Friday, March 7, 2008
GIIS comes under "Foreign System Schools" (different from 'Private School'). Nevertheless, we welcome such quality-control moves by Singapore MOE.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
I regret the delay in posting the fee hike announcement for discussion.
(The announcement of 1/3/2008 on MYGIIS, from Kaustubh Bodhankar, Country Director GIIS Singapore) Posted by Bala.
[Editors' note: We have not succumbed to fear or pressure (as suspected by a commentator). This blog continues to be a free, independent and responsible forum. We would like to focus on key issues only and this is one. Let us not get distracted by smaller issues like the role of PSG. Besides poor co-operation from GIIS, we face (still) a severe shortage of parents who can write a post. If you can help by copying and pasting important announcements from MYGIIS, or write simple posts, or more, please join and help ! What you need is a Google GMail ID, as it is safe, secure and suitable. (We do not recommend hotmail or yahoo ID's). We need your help ! See HOW TO JOIN. ]
After considering all views, options and available info, the UNANIMOUS POSITION shared by all currently available blogging parents is -
1. We do not agree with the justifications offered in the letter. They do not hold water.
2. We need facts. We need the full facts on the table.
The inflation in Singapore is reported as 4.5 to 5.5% but the 25 to 35% hikes proposed are much higher than that. Salary increases projected in the papers is only 5.9%, but the letter talks about government employees getting "generous bonuses". According to our information, the top executives of GIIS and GIF are paid a handsome salary that they could not earn in the private sector, plus good perks, so further increases are not needed to retain them as "talent", so the comparison with Singapore government salaries is so obviously misleading. Missing fact: what is the cost impact of campus X on campus Y ? Think of the new campus coming up in Vietnam. Is the rental rise in Mumbai factored in ? (India office of GIF is in Maker Chamber, Nariman Point - where posh consular offices are situated and costs have gone up further there. Is that not a factor ?). Are GIF personnel, guests and invitees travelling first class by air (we have no evidence about class of travel, but evidently there is a lot of air travel as things are going global). How much is actually spent on travel, advertisements, PR, TV, press, overseas campaigns and events ? What is being done to control these costs and what costs were reduced ? Is cost being reduced on the most appropriate areas ? How much percentage cost was actually saved by cancelling Julia Gabriel's contract (at the sacrifice of quality) ? How much did the Global Indian Harmony (2007) event cost us ? The letter refers to lease hike by SLA (Singapore Land Authority). What percentage of the total cost is land lease ? Why did GIIS or GIF not request SLA (Singapore Land Authority) to lock in the lease amount for a 10 year period (thanks to commentor 'dbm' for this tip) ? If the cost increases are due to mismanagement, how can we have a better control over it ? Surely, everything cannot be blamed on inflation or the falling US Dollar. What about past 3 years' profits, are they kept as reserves, earning reasonable returns ? or have they been all squandered away ? There are too many questions and too few facts on the table. All thanks to GIIS and GIF being secretive about key financial information which should have been in the annual reports and sent to every parent.
Anybody who has facts relevant to this discussion, please chip in. We will also need help from accounting and financial gurus to analyze the numbers.
We invite GIF/GIIS management to respond to this here.
Parents: Please forward this page to Kaustubh Bodhankar & Atul Temurnikar and invite their response.
Kaustubh Bodhankar: firstname.lastname@example.org
Atul Temurnikar: email@example.com
(Thanks to anonymous commentator for email IDs, we had posted @giismalaysia.org IDs earlier).
Please read Instructions on how to send any page from this blog as email
Parents, please suggest other courses of action if you have better ideas on how to deal with this situation.
From : GIIS Announcement
Date : 1/3/2008 [dd/mm/yyyy]
Subject : Fee Revision: More students to qualify for Aid.
The inflation & the increased cost of living in Singapore have even prompted the Singapore Parliament for a debate. The steep increases have been in the areas such as seen in the housing / office / commercial building rents, taxis / school buses, petrol & diesel, food prices and even electricity & water. Salaries and Wages too have gone up as many sectors including the government are dishing out generous bonuses.
How does it affect GIIS?
GIIS school operations too are heavily dependent on above factors. Take for example, steep increases in office/commercial rents has resulted in substantial increases in the lease valuations of our School buildings. As a result of these changed market valuations, Singapore Land Authority, in line with the market increases, has increased our school leases substantially, which is an added cost to the institution.
Wages across the various sectors in Singapore have gone up over the past 3 years and at GIIS the average employee Cost to the School (CTC) has gone up by more than 60% in the past 2 years itself. For every 15 students, a new teacher has to be employed and as a result, across the 3 campuses, our combined teaching resources have risen to over 300 (includes full time & part time teachers). In addition, GIIS has increased the number of expat teachers significantly.
Moreover, labor intensive services such as cleaning, security & nursing agencies have become a lot expensive. Cost of medical Insurance for students, teachers and staff too have increased. The ECA/CCA activities, which are part of the tuition fees, have also seen substantial increase and the same have been absorbed by the school till date.
What is the impact on the School Bus?
Transport services have become more expensive due to increased Diesel costs, shortage of buses and shortage of bus drivers. Diesel costs have risen by more than 50% within the last year itself. There is a major shortage of bus drivers, leading public bus operators such as SBS/SMRT to employ a huge number of bus drivers from China. The driver salaries too have gone up sharply due to this shortage of bus drivers. Wages for Bus attendants too have gone up. There are lesser school buses available as Bus operators are shifting to other schools which are charging up to $300 per month, which is substantially higher than GIIS fees. Increased ERP charges too have contributed to higher operating costs for the school buses.
In the last 6 months, the school bus operators have already increased their charges by over $10 per student which the school has absorbed and has not passed on these additional costs to the parents. Due to the above shortages and the further escalating fuel costs, transport operators will be charging an additional $20 per student (per month) leading to a total cost increase of $ 30 per student (per month).
What has GIIS done to optimize escalating costs?
Over the past year, GIIS has achieved significant costs optimization through a series of measures. All administrative functions such as HR, Finance & Operations have been centralized to reduce administrative expenses. For the other operating services including Security, Cleaning & Transport services, the school is re-negotiating the contracts with the vendors.
What is the 2008-2009 Fees Revision?
The school’s finance committee (FC) has examined all price hikes which have affected GIIS operating costs. The finance committee has recommended an essential increase in the Tuition fees & School Bus fees to accommodate these increased costs.
The Monthly Tuition Fees for various school levels will be revised upwards as follows:
* For Kindergarten (Std. Nursery to K2) - by $78 per month
* For Primary / Middle / High School & Junior College - by $98 per month
* The Monthly School Bus fee (Zone 1 & 2) will be up by $28 per month
Is any Aid available to GIIS students?
To support the needy students, GIIS has setup a special assistance aid. This special assistance aid shall be provided to offset the tuition fee increase for the 1st term of 2008-2009 only. Qualifying GIIS students, whose annual household income is below $50K, will be eligible to apply under this scheme. They should submit their application along with the reasons for grant of this aid to the Principal. Each application will be reviewed on its own merit and the school reserves the right to accept / reject the application.
I hope the above QA format has answered all the queries. If you have any more questions, please feel free to write to the Principal / Fees department.
With warm regards
Country Director – GIIS Singapore
Note: This email is sent on behalf of Director, GIIS. Please do not respond to this account as it is unattended. Thanks IT, GIIS